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The Assault Reviews

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Luke B

Super Reviewer

December 22, 2012
Genuinely surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for this fantastic film. It deserves a lot of love for the way it crafts a tense but realistic thriller. SOmething of a different Christmas movie for me, this recounts the true events of Christmas Eve - Boxing Day 1994, as armed Algerian terrorists take over a plane. We weave in and out of the different facets that must deal with the crisis including those on the plane, the government, and the tactics team that will eventually have to take them down. The film is shot with urgency and perfectly recreates the feeling of dread and despair. Best of all is the historical for this film. People laugh and ignore the woman who believes this to be a suicide mission. Something we most certainly would make our first guess in this day and age. The action is incredible, considering it takes place in such a small space. The climax is repetitive in an invigorating way, as the terrorists and police trade shots without busting out into action heroics. I was completely engrossed by this little gem, which I may make a Christmas regular.
April 5, 2012
A very well made true to life story about what happened on the Air France airplane hijack incident last December 1994. Thinking it is well detailed with all the drama and gunshots inside that plane when the GIGN swat team rescued the entire crew and passenger inside the plane. Awesome performances reminds me of watching Captain Philipps again. 3.5 out of 5
January 13, 2014
nada. It had some ok reviews but I watched it on netflix and it was overdubbed...badly. maybe that was the main problem but didn't hold my attention. I paid too much attention to the annoying overdub
August 3, 2013
The four suicide-hijackers receive next to no attention. That is unfortunate because in the event they were veterans of Usama bin Laden's operation during the Afghan-Russian war. Their intent was to crash the Airbus 300 jumbo jet into what had been the tallest building in the world when it was constructed -- the Eiffel Tower. Still, the preparations against terrorism that Air France and G.I.G.N. had made prior to 1994 all came into play and are presented effectively. Contrary to the Americans in 2001, this Afghansi plot is stopped cold and the procedural flow of the movie blends into video footage of the actual retaking of the A300 on the tarmac at Marseilles. When people are shot in this film it is the real people taking real bullets. For Americans this should be a disturbing film start to finish: why did we not prepare and why not lock our airline cockpits? Avoiding the 9/11 attacks would have been so easy. Air France changed its rules after this attack and prevented any possibility of a repetition. Our FAA saw AF's new procedures but despite spending tens of millions on counterterrorism, FAA ignored the problem. And now every year the names are read down at WTC and it takes hours.
January 19, 2013
A fact-based thriller, The Assault (L'assaut) is a gripping, simple and an adrenaline-pumping depiction of a true terrorist hijacking and the events during the rescue operation. Subtle and minimalistic, this French movie is a formidable example of serious, tension-filled,and yet non-fictional film-making.

The ninety minutes of director Julien Leclercq are focused solely on the events which took place in Algeria and in Marseille,France during the Christmas holiday of 1994. Without much hesitation or any long introduction, the movie kicks off in fast pace and keeps its narrative so quick that the somehow "documentary" feeling remains completely unnoticed until the very end of the movie. With slow motion action sequences, stylish black & white camera approach and greyish cinematography The Assault remains extremely realistic and simple. Just what a real hostage movie should be.

Director Julien Leclercq decides not to develop any of the characters shown in his movie. The only one who receives more focused screen attention is Vincent Elbaz as Thierry. This could be considered a small flaw, as the impersonal approach towards the movie characters decreases the possible dramatic effect of the movie and the emotional stakes fail to further increase. However, given the whole concept of the movie, this is easily to be forgiven as Leclercq has obviously decided to keep his movie the closest possible to being a true non-fictional delivery.

With its simplicity, straight-forward approach and breath-taking pace, The Assault has managed to achieve what most of the similar Hollywood productions failed: to seem cool-bloodily realistic, to hold its stunning grip on the audience every single minute and to become an outstanding example of the movies of this genre.

Undeservedly criticized by the American critics (quite understandably, in my view), The Assault is a formidable French example of how a terrorist/hostages thriller should be made!
October 24, 2012
This movie was equivalent to Obama's past term = Awful
October 9, 2012
Given that it's a hostage thriller based on real events, the whole film completely lacked tension. I'm unsure what to blame for this, whether it's the acting, the script, the soundtrack, the camera shots or the casting?
Despite the terrorists killing in cold blood on multiple occasions, I still found myself unable to imagine from the surface of it, what the swat team had to fear from those four and didn't get an realistic sense of passenger/terrorist interaction and panic.
I debated switching off after 30 minutes, but stuck it out and am not sure it was really worth it.
All-in-all, a poor attempt to replicate and get the viewer to understand what was a very serious real life incident.
September 1, 2012
terrible movie, the voice overs were horrible as well as the acting.
August 30, 2012
**Action sequence spoilers**

This could have been so much better. Interesting setup but it completely fell apart in the final showdown inside the plane for one big reason: the entire firefight consisted of quick edits of jerky, handheld, super closeups. The result was a disorienting & incoherent firefight. I couldn't tell what the heck was going on. It seemed like there were only a few SWAT members (with pistols!) near the pilot cabin, being picked off one by one - or was it the same one or two guys shown over & over? Who knows? It felt like we were watching the same moment over & over again.

It also looked like the bulk of the SWAT team (with machine guns!) headed to the back of the plane and it takes several minutes before it becomes clear that they were busy getting the passengers off through a rear exit. The sharpshooters on a distant building roof don't seem to do anything. It wasn't clear what their perspective was, whether they could see anything or if they even took a shot. Later, they're seen running off the roof.

We see two people jump out the front cabin window, but then it turns out there are still 2 pilots left inside, along with several terrorists. How many people were actually in there? There's no clear sense of who is where, who's shooting at whom, how far away they are from each other, the general physical layout... after investing time sitting through the film's setup, I was "rewarded" with basically a music video of closeups of guns & people's faces. I wanted to like this film, but it's really hard to enjoy something that's nothing more than an endless barrage of disconnected images. Which is unfortunate because unlike films directed by hacks like Tony Scott, Michael Bay & others who use this type of mindless & incoherent action staging, the fighting in The Assault could really have had some emotional impact.
Jerry R.
August 9, 2012
It is a little difficult to watch a film like L'Assault and not feel a knot in your stomach. Here is a film about the 1994 Christmas hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 by Middle Eastern terrorist in an attempt (French Intellegence said) to take over the plane and fly it into The Eiffel Tower. Their plan was thwarted by deliberate delays by Air Traffic Control that allowed the GIGA (the French equivalent of the S.W.A.T. team) to move in. The knot in our stomachs come from the fact that this is such a current and all-too-real situation that plays in our minds a decade after the events of September 11th. Even if you know how these events played out, the tension that the film creates is present and very effective.

Shot in bleached-out colors with a hand-held camera, French director Julien Leclercq keeps his film spare on personal details. He walks a very fine line between sticking to the facts and turning the material into an action picture. He mixes two elements very well, so that the material never feels overblown or exploitive. He knows very well how to draw tension from his viewer. The opening scenes are the most effective as we watch the terrorists preparing for their mission, praying, gathering their weapons and their explosives, and trying to keep their minds on their task. We follow the terrorists all the way from their meeting point to the plane where they pose as agents before being discovered by one very observant passenger. That's when all Hell breaks loose.

We've seen those scenes before with all the shouting, threats, demands and cowering passengers, but what makes the scene work is that there is real fear coming from the terrorists themselves. Leclercq's camera often gets very close to their eyes so that we can see that while they are focused on their task, they are still scared out of their minds. The focal point on the terrorist side rests with an angry young fellow named Yahia (Aymen Sadi), the leader whose anger and frustration at not getting what he wants (there's a long bit of business about the fact that the plane can't take off because no one will move the stairs) makes him effective and very scary. One thing that I didn't expect was a heart-wrenching development late in the film when someone very close to him begs him to reconsider this whole terrorist plot. Films like this rarely give the terrorist a human dimension.

Parallel to the scenes of the terrorist plot is another story, that of a GIGA member named Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) whose wife is terrified when he goes out on a job. We don't get to know him or his family in great detaill, but their story plays as an emotional center to what is going on from the side of the French. We know all we need to know. He's on the job. She's afraid for him. We don't need much more exposition than that. That's the most effective element of the film. It plays out in reality without slowing down for character development. You don't need it. All we need are the facts at hand. This element of the film is smart on the part of the director because since we know how the story concludes, Thierry's story adds a suspenseful, and unexpected element.

The movie has a slow build-up to the final assault by the GIGA and, unlike most action pictures, earns its ending. Leclercq does a very good job of staging the action scenes in a confined space with no heroics in sight. This works especially well if you don't already know how it turned out. What he has for us at the end is quite unexpected.

L'Assault is, I'm afraid, is going to inevitably draw comparison to Paul Greengrass' United 93. His was the better film - I chose it as my favorite film of 2006. It works more efficiently because of its spareness and because of our heavy emotional investment in the events of September 11th. I don't know as much about the events in L'Assault. That doesn't make them any less significant, but it makes the emotional weight just a little lighter. Comparing the two is really not fair anyway. The success of United 93 lay in its cold, straight-ahead vision. L'Assault is a little more cinematic and develops characters, both good and bad just enough so that we are invested in what is happening because they are people that we understand a little bit about. We know the events that took place. We know how they turned out. What is frightening is that even when the terrorists fail, we know with dread, that they'll be back.
August 8, 2012
Downright horrible. The movie spends a full hour setting up for an assault through disjointed plot points, horrible subtitles/voice overs, depressing but confusing/not fully explained domestic troubles of the protagonist, and unneeded special effects such as slow motion and a wide range of filters. And to add insult to injury, the climax leaves you with the urge to yell at the screen asking them with the F where they thinking when they made this movie?!
July 9, 2012
Saw the movie, not that good. Very poor English translation and horrible sub-titles.
June 23, 2012
I don't know if 'twas the annoying dubbing (i'd rather read subtitles), but the whole movie felt unnatural and rough around the edges.
March 22, 2012
I just bought/watched "The Assault", a movie based on the 1994 hijacking of an Air France plane. If anyone is interested in this subject matter I highly recommend this movie. My only advice if you do watch it is to set it up with the original French soundtrack and English subtitles. The voiced-over English version makes everybody sound American.
March 25, 2012
Che swat (con colin farrell) sia ritirata e il regista lapidato insieme allo sceneggiatore. Il mondo delle forze speciali credo che nella sua storia abbia già abbastanza spunti interessanti senza inventarci cagate come quelle viste in quel film. E questa storia ne è un ottimo esempio. Andate a Dio solo sa se esista in italiano...
March 20, 2012
c'è poco da fare.. i Francesi e li sanno fare i film d'azione!
August 16, 2011
Smurfs get reviewed, as do all the most useless Hollywood productions and yet this masterpiece goes unnoticed. This was a sensational action movie that engaged in the first minute and kept you glued to the screen...
JF 3.
March 14, 2011
Great action movie. Based on real fact which shocked France in 1994. this kind of film is quite unusual in our country but efficiency is on rendez-vous. So ready for the assault ?
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